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I am a Polish Jew

As soon as communism collapsed in Poland, he returned to the country because he also considered himself a Polish patriot. Arie then said: “We are all brothers and neither nationality nor religion can divide us. Why can’t two nations, so bound together, cry over each other and enjoy freedom together?”

“He was a wonderful man, wise and cordial, of great knowledge and spirit” — these were the words used to bid farewell to the Israeli politician and academic Shevah Weiss, the one-time ambassador of Israel to Poland, who died a week ago. Born in pre-war Poland and devoted to her for the last twenty years, Shevah Weiss will go down in history not just for the books he wrote and the students he inspired but also for his political initiatives and the beautiful friendships he forged. For many commentators in Poland, a simple sentence that Shevah Weiss uttered more than two decades ago in Jedwabne on July 10, 2001 and which he was to repeat on numerous subsequent occasions, sums up why he will be remembered forever. In that singular remark, he refers to two barns, explaining that there were many different barns in occupied Poland — not just the one in Jedwabne, but, for example, the one in Borysław too — where Jews were rescued. And why? Because little Shevah, his brother and parents were saved from the Holocaust thanks to their neighbors, Polish and Ukrainian families.

This extraordinary man was also able to say that it was not just Jews, but Poles too, who were the victims of Nazism and Hitlerism. He knew history and while capable of pointing out the shortcomings and awkwardness in the two countries’ mutual relations in recent decades, he was also quick to cite positive examples within the context of those relations including Polish patriots with Jewish roots. Everyone acknowledges how exceptional he was. Yet, despite the fact that some might prefer to see him as the only one having such a deeply human approach to Jewish and Polish matters, Shevah was not alone.

He kept finding good things

It was during his term as ambassador, albeit without his participation, that Ruven Zygielbaum (1913–2005), the youngest brother of Artur Szmul Zygielbojm, the great lonely hero of the struggle to draw the Allied world’s attention to the fate of Jews dying in occupied Poland, re-emerged .

You can read the entire article by following this link.

– Barbara Sułek-Kowalska
– Translated by Agnieszka Rakoczy

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